I really love to photograph people and families, particularly in their own homes. It’s a great way to capture a day in their lives with their loved ones. I feel like the photos have much more sentimental value than more traditional style portraits in a studio setting. They can really tell your story. They show what family life is like with all the emotions, fun and love.
Documentary vs Lifestyle family photography
There are two types of photography styles when it comes to family photography in your home, documentary and lifestyle. My approach is lifestyle, but you might not have heard that term before so I’ll explain.
Documentary photography is where the photographer is like a fly on the wall, they don’t intervene or get involved in what you do or where you go. They will simply capture what you do. Though this can produce some lovely images, it might not be suitable for everyone as it can make people feel uncomfortable and awkward about what they should do in front of the camera.
Lifestyle photography sits between documentary and more traditional posed photography. During lifestyle photoshoots, the photographer will gently guide you in a place and will give you prompts or suggestions on what to do so you’re interacting with one another. For example, I may ask you to snuggle up on the bed, tickle each other, read a book on the sofa or play with a toy/game on the floor. This can be more reassuring for people who are not used to being in front of the camera as you are given guidance and reassurance. The activities and prompts will be tailored to your family so the photographs show genuine interactions and real connections.
Why consider a photoshoot in your home
Having a photoshoot at home may seem like a weird prospect at first, but I really love them as they have lots of benefits.
Home is where the heart is. It’s a place where you spend most of your time together as a family. A place where you form new memories and grow together. Your home may not be perfect, like most things in life, but it can be so meaningful.
Capture precious memories. Having a photo session at your home and planning some activities can really capture a slice of everyday life. Time goes by so fast, so having photos like this can be very sentimental and precious for you all. Imagine looking through a photo album in many years’ time with your children and grandchild, reminiscing about that time in your life.
Comfort. Home is where people generally feel most comfortable and like themselves. If some of your family members are a little shy, having a session in your home can make them feel more at ease as they are in their own space and in similar surroundings.
Easy. It can be much more easy and convenient than going to a different location or studio, particularly if you have young children. Everything you need is in easy reach. If you need to change a nappy, give a child a quick snack or need to change outfits, everything is to hand and you don’t need to remember to pack it.
How to prepare before your in-home photoshoot
I recommend you book a time for your photoshoot that best works for you and your children. Choose a time after you’ve eaten where you are awake and happy. Avoid nap times or straight after nap times when young ones can be a little moody or too sleepy.
We will mainly shoot in the living room, master bedroom and kid’s bedrooms/nursery. There is no need to do a deep clean and have your house pristine and sparkly. Just have a quick tidy up in these rooms if you can. If your house is messy, I really won’t judge you. During the photoshoot, we can move anything distracting like old coffee cups out of the way.
If you have bedding in a white or pale neutral colour it’s recommended you put this on your bed. Dark and bold bedding can be distracting and distort the light in the final photos.
If you’re feeling a little apprehensive, it might be a good idea to think about having some activities prepared. Choose activities that you would normally do or like to do as a family. It can be something adventurous or more laid back, whichever suits your family the best. Some suggested activities are:
- Eating breakfast together
- reading books
- Playing a game
- Bath time
- Making/decorating cakes
- Building a fort or den
- Planting flowers
- Pillow fights
For newborns and babies, we can focus more on your daily routine like bath time, feeding, nappy changes and those all important cuddles. Looking back at photos like this will instantly transport you back to this time in your life.
What to expect on the day
When I first arrive I’ll first introduce myself to everyone and help to break the ice. I know it can be daunting having a stranger come to your house to photograph you, but it really won’t be as bad or daunting as you think.
Once I’ve said hello to everyone I will then ask to be shown around the house so I can get my bearings and find the best light and locations for our photo session. Again, please don’t worry or apologise if your house is a little messy, your home really doesn’t need to look like it came straight out of an interiors magazine. If something distracting is in view, we can quickly move it out of the way.
I shoot in natural light, so I’ll turn off any lights or lamps that may be on and will ask that we open curtains and blinds to help get as much daylight in as possible.
Once I’ve found the best locations, we’ll start the photoshoot. Normally we start off with the whole family together before moving to other groupings and rooms. I will lightly direct you into a position then will encourage interaction and play. This way it helps you relax into the shoot and feel more comfortable. We can also plan to do activities that you love doing together, for example reading a book, baking cakes, playing games …. the possibilities are endless.
If you or your family is camera shy, having an activity set up in advance can help relieve the pressure and relax you more quickly as your focus shifts towards the activity rather than to the camera.
During my sessions, I leave plenty of time so that we can take little breaks throughout if needed. I also won’t necessarily be photographing every family member at all times of the shoot so they will naturally be breaks for everyone.
I don’t bring any props with me, but if you have something you want to incorporate that means a lot to you please mention it. For example your child’s favourite teddy, a handmade blanket, a photo of your grandparents… whatever it is, please mention it to me beforehand and have it ready.
Can my pet be involved too?
Yes, your furry can absolutely be involved too. I’ve grown up around animals and currently have a dog myself so I know that pets feel just as much a part of the family dynamic.
What to wear
Wear something that is comfortable and ultimately feels like you. If you like dressing up, maybe wear something more formal. If you’re more laid back, maybe wear something more casual.
Here are my top do and don’ts when it comes to what to wear:
- Choose something that feels like you, you’re comfortable in and feel great in
- Coordinate your clothes using complementary colours and similar tones
- Opt for more neutral tones rather than something too vibrant. Whites, pastels and jewel shades are great in photos.
- Avoid being too matchy matchy
- Avoid large logos and busy or bold patterns. These can be very distracting in your photographs.
- Try on the clothes you’re planning to wear a good week or so before the shoot to make sure they are ok. You don’t want to end up panicking on the day.
During an in-home session, there is also an opportunity to do a quick change halfway through. For example, you could start off in PJs if you want to capture what mornings feel like (think cuddles in the bed and breakfast) before changing into day clothes for the remainder of the photoshoot.
Don’t stress about your kids. If your kids start misbehaving, just let me try to diffuse the situation first. Don’t get yourself worked up or stressed, kids will be kids at the end of the day. Play with them, tickle them, kiss them, enjoy this time with them.
Don’t stress about your home not being perfect.
Have fun with each other, relax and enjoy this experience. Interact with one another and show your love. What makes an image magical is the connection and emotion. You’re in safe hands.